Monday, June 30, 2008

When I Grow Up, I Want to Fly

When I grow up, I want to fly, I thought. Not in an airplane. I want to have the power to fly, the gift of flight.

Whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would suppress this answer. I would choose from a careful list of fun-sounding careers, settling on something that was not too out-there, not too scary. Something that wouldn't devastate me if it didn't happen. In fifth grade, for example, I think it was marine biologist.

But walking alone, looking at the stars, letting my yearning heart speak, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. Fly.

Sometimes I flew in my dreams. It would be so realistic that I would wake up in disbelief. I must have been awake! And the dream feeling remained. Oddly, it was not only a feeling of being light and floating. It was a feeling that the air around me was heavier than it seemed. That it was filled with a magical substance so substantial, in fact, that it could support me. That by a combination of movements of body and belief and energy willed up, I could take off. For fun, to escape my enemies, to revel in some innate power that only I was aware of. While others saw nothing, I knew the air was alive.

As I grew older, my flying dreams diminished, but my heart yearned no less for this power. I certainly couldn't tell people about it now. Can you imagine the look on the advisor's face when she asked what I wanted to major in? "I want to fly." And to me it seemed much more practical than French literature.

My dream had been in my heart strongly for a couple of weeks, when I was working on homework for my religion class. The desk in my attic apartment faced a window, and as I glanced out, I caught sight of a bird. The wind pushed up into its wings, and the bird floated and swooped, deft movements working with the air to change its direction.

In that moment, not just the air, but other matter became fluid. I became the bird, and from that vantage point, I could feel the wind supporting me, feel the magic of weightlessness, that it is not the absence of weight, but being held by powers unknown but felt. I was the bird. I flew.

And when I came back to my body at the desk, windblown, the air fresh in my lungs, I smiled at the secret.

I have grown up to fly. Thank God.

No comments: